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February 08, 2012


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Dan Coyle

I actually liked Hudgens a lot in BandSlam, because she was able to convincingly portray someone withdrawn and antisocial despite the fact she looked like Vanessa Anne Hudgens.

Glenn Kenny

I have NO PROBLEM with the Hudge. This particular vehicle did not represent much of a challenge to her, not showcase much in the way of her performance skills!

Phil Freeman

So is RAMPART pretty much a rehash of DARK BLUE (also Ellroy-scripted, but set in '92 and with Kurt Russell in the Harrelson part)?

Glenn Kenny

@ Phil: As far as I'm concerned, it coulda stood to have been MORE like DARK BLUE, which I recall with slight albeit definite fondness. (Big Kurt Russell fan.) You know, mitt a plot, that kind of thing. Whatever virtues RAMPART boasts, narrative momentum isn't exactly one of them.


I think the problem with RAMPART is while Moverman made an admirable attempt to find a visual equivalent of Ellroy's rat-a-tat prose style, he does so at the expense of the story and the character relationships. I still have no idea what purpose Wright's character served in the movie.

Having said that, this is one of the best performances Harrelson has ever given (one thing this has in common with the otherwise far superior DARK BLUE is, like Kurt Russell in that movie, you never see Harrelson condescend to his character or apologize for him), and is worth watching because of that.


I thought the first JOURNEY movie was a pleasant surprise. A lot of fun, definitely in the spirit of those kids' adventures of yore (yore being the early 60s). And there was a fetching young woman in that one, too (though not quite as young as Hudgens), an Icelandic actress named Anita Briem, whose career seems not to have benefited from it one bit, unfortunately.






How annoying is Josh Hutcherson, though? Why do teen girls always like complete douchebags, instead of me?

Glenn Kenny

Hmm. The question likely answers itself, in several ways.

What I found noteworthy about Hutcherson—not to put a jinx on him or his career or anything—is the extent to which he comes off like a slightly milquetoasted variant on Brad Renfro. It's ALMOST creepy. That said, I hope things work out better for this kid, that's for sure.


Glenn when are you going to devote 50 articles to the GORIN BOXED SET, since you're the ONLY motherfucker likely to ever watch it?


See? I'm smarter than you. Bet a MILLION DOLLARS Kenny has never seen ROUTINE PLEASURES, and I saw it six times. MY CRASY LIFE POWER.


I *was* tempted to get the Gorin Box, I'll admit... :-)

Glenn Kenny





Yes but is everybody LOOKING AT HER?

LOOK AT HER. Oh my GOD is she cute. WANT HER. She was on Fallon last night playing "Shoe Golf" and showed her feet. FEET!

Does she show her feet in the movie? Probably not, since in all the posters she has on some HIKING BOOTS, which is NOT COOL.


YAY CUTE. CUTE. CUUUUUUUUUTE LOOK AT HER. Usually I don't go in for Filipinas at ALL, but she's SO COOL.

warren oates

I thoroughly detested RAMPART. What a complete waste of hours. I had hopes that the Ellroy script would have some compelling details and insights into the world of more contemporary L.A. policing. But the finished film is just a protagonist pity party, wherein each scene consists of Harrelson doing something naughty to piss someone off so that they yell at him and he can yell back. Since there's no story, no real opportunity for interesting dramatic choices or conflict, I suppose this is the kind of thing that politely gets called a "character study." With spastic, ugly cinematography to boot. By contrast it makes something like THE SHIELD look like the Dickensian masterpiece it isn't. Ick.


How can somebody be dismissive of THE SHIELD, which is arguably more awesome and CERTAINLY more electric than even everybody's favorite TV boner objects like The Wire and Sopranos? Anyone who doesn't like The Shield doesn't deserve a screen handle like "Warren Oates."

Maybe next up, "Charles Bronson" can tell me how "Heat" sucks.

warren oates

Um, because in THE SHIELD it's not merely the cinematography that's spastic. It's the whole durn show. Shawn Ryan's show is not so much electric as hysteric. And yeah, for the record, THE WIRE and THE SOPRANOS -- even in their crappiest seasons -- put it to shame and give me a far larger TV boner. Though I have to agree with you, Lex, about Gorin. As far as essay film docu boners go, there are few that get me harder.

Mark David Chapstick

Oh, great. LexG, professional jagoff, has brought his lame schtick to this site. Awesome. What's the matter, Todd, the creeps at HE not paying enough attention to you?


Lex has been here many times before, Mark David Chapshtick.

I haven't seen THE SHIELD, but may catch up with it one of these days. Jaime Christley was always high on it, and it's got Walton Goggins, so how bad can it be?

Haven't seen any Gorin either, but I'll join the chorus of CUUUUUTE for Hudgens. Saw an ad for JOURNEY 2 last night, and wished I could think of an excuse to freeze the frame on a shot of her without making the girlfriend suspicious. Maybe I should've tried, "Hey, honey, would you like a pair of those hiking boots?"


Nothing wrong with something being "hysterical"-- that's the tone of the show, which is as SPOT ON a portrait of Los Angeles as EVER has been put to film; Instead of the usual Lawrence Kasdan/Judd Apatow Westside bullshit L.A. or neutered cop shows, The Shield is a multiethnic, frenzied assault of nonstop in-your-face hostility that seems a lot more legit than Simon's "Wire" world of SUPER CONTRIVED characters like Prop Joe, Omar, and Stringer Bell, who are TOO beautifully written and eloquent; I love "The Wire," too, but it ALWAYS seemed to have a high Civics Lesson Bullshit Factor, that LEGALIZE IT season being a prime offender, and the 5th season referendum on journalistic integrity not far behind; Also always seemed like Simon was working off old research from the '80s or early '90s, minus throwing in whatever (now dated) street slang was big circa 2004 (amusing when one season everybody starts saying "GRINDING!" like every two words.) Brilliant as that show could be-- and McNulty is a GOD, and the fourth year was beyond reproach-- it also had a bit of a This Is For White People Who've Never Met a Black Guy vibe to it, like you could just imagine these sheltered white elites all mesmerized like, "THIS is how THEY really talk! THIS IS WHAT THE STREETS ARE LIKE!"

I don't know a single actual black guy who's ever been into THE WIRE, but I've always had an itching feeling they'd think a lot of it rings kind of phony and limo-lib.

Tom Block

Good god, the fourth season was the artificial and contrived one--you knew from the get-go what fates lay in the store for those four kids; the rest of the season was a matter of waiting to see which fate was going to get dished out to just which kid. Season 3, though, had one of the most satisfy storylines that any of these TV novels have given us. It was worth it just for the scene where McNulty stumbles onto Amsterdam and then has to get his head around Bunny Colvin's experiment.

warren oates

Can't agree with Tom Block about THE WIRE's Season 4. It's Season 5 that's ludicrous, mostly because Simon was quite clearly too close to the experience of newspapering to treat it with any creative distance at all and secondarily because of the ridiculous character-betraying twists necessary to justify the serial murder hoax plot device.

And, yeah, Lex, I have African American friends who enjoy THE WIRE. And, no, Lex, they aren't former cops, corner boys or addicts. But really isn't this line of reasoning akin to criticizing, say, OLIVER TWIST because you know a Victorian orphan and he doesn't like reading and even if he did he'd never read anything like it because everybody knows there's no such thing as Fagin.

Glenn Kenny

How irritating, Warren Oates, that you're using something resembling a reasoned argument in an attempt to deprive Lex of the sublime pleasure of chastising you for liberal pandering. The nerve!

Owain Wilson

I always had a thing for Sharpay!

James Keepnews

Yes, Season 5 of THE WIRE is the one where the show goes off the rails and into a dispiriting will on David Simon's part to settle scores with the Baltimore Sun, to indulge his leaden buddy "Wild" Bill Zorzi, &c., &c. But. It also features possibly the most intense toe-to-toe of evenly matched rivals in the history of American television and, fuck yeah, I'm talking about Omar vs. Marlo.

And, for that, while THE SHIELD didn't always live up to its hype, damned if that final season -- and esp. those final two episodes -- didn't wreak some brutal karmic retribution on Mackey's series-long avalanche of turpitude. Chiklis et al. (not least the estimable Mr. Goggins) stepped up and unleashed the most wrenching conclusion to any television series I can think of. I'm hoping for a similarly devastating denouement to former SHIELD producer Kurt Sutter's SONS OF ANARCHY -- short of the whole club spending thirteen weeks in a confessional and the Feds inexplicably saving their asses (again), I can't imagine how it could end any other way.


The DOCK WORKERS season with that jerkoff Ziggy wasn't always setting the world on fire either. Other than Chris Bauer and that Ziggy's Cousin's Girlfriend's AMAZING rack, the whole docks storyline was borderline deadly.

Really only 1 and 4 were solid gold all the way through. S3 suffers from BUNNY COLVIN'S FREE RANGE HEROIN AND CRACK FARM; I know progressive types love this season because it's preaching to the LEGALIZE IT choir like manna from the heavens, but Herc and Carv as security guards standing around while dudes SHOOT UP IN PUBLIC was bordering on sci-fi territory. I also doubt that even the hardest of hardcore junkies wanna hang out in some bombed out hellhole to get high, and would be so obedient about keeping said pursuits within Bunny's lockdown area.

Also was it ever made explicit on the show if Bubbles was gay? Doesn't matter, I just never understood if he was some mentor figure to the KIDS dude and whatever other younger guys he'd roll with, or if he was actually gay. Or if he was Gregory Hines in EVE OF DESTRUCTION.

warren oates

I can't believe I forgot to add this, but last year I met a teacher who taught at the selfsame school featured in Season 4 of THE WIRE while they were shooting it and, naturally, I asked him what it was "really" like, since I imagined there must have been obvious dramatic exaggerations and oversights for the sake of narrative economy. "Pretty much just like the show," he said.


I'm wondering about these "single actual black guy"s Lex knows, and his speculation about why they aren't into The Wire. I mean, couldn't you just have asked them why when you were discussing it?


Am I the only WIRE devotee who thinks the fifth season was first-rate and hugely underrated? (Season Two was for me the weakest, but only really in comparison with how incredible the other seasons are).

As a big fan of THE MESSENGER, I was hugely disappointed by RAMPART, especially when about mid-way through the story (I know, I should probably put "story" in quotes), the direction suddenly looks like a first-year film student took over the camera -- the annoying pans in the Buscemi-Weaver-Harrelson scene, that restaurant scene where the camera plants itself at the back of Ned Beatty's head, the scene where the camera moves inexorably into Robin Wright's eye like it's setting up a shot for a Susanne Bier film...

And before we completely give up the topic of TV, are there any other SHERLOCK fans here?

Tom Russell

Bettencourt: I'm of the opinion that the fifth season was terrific, if a little "rushed"-- not that they didn't do the work, I think they did, but because they didn't have as much time as I think they needed to tell that particular story.

I think THE WIRE is the only completely unimpeachable work of television. Every performance, every scene-- there's not a moment that wasn't earned or didn't deliver.

Tom Block

I only mentioned the fourth season because that was the one Lex brought up, but I'm with Lyle Gorch on S5, especially the left-field serial-killer story. But things like Michael taking over Omar's role in the end wasn't just a schematic convenience, it was a *feel-good* schematic convenience that felt especially false coming after all those scenes of Omar losing his mojo. History does have a way of repeating itself, but it's usually not so literal when it does it.

Season 2 only loses me during the scenes in the port bar--that's one tin ear at work when the working stiffs are reminiscing and so on. But I'm a big fan of the season overall, but any show whose initial spark comes from Frank Valchek's hissy-fit over a church window already has me eating out of its hand. The Greek's escape was bitter enough to blow Jake Gittes' mind, and of all of the series' sacrificial goats--Wallace and Bunny & Co.--none of 'em got me like Frank Sobotka. (When the ME went out of his way to say "He put up quite a fight", it just killed me.) And it for sure has the best season-ending montage of all the candidates...

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